Mental Health Awareness Week: Practicing Kindfulness

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme is kindness. In a time of isolation and loneliness for many, the kindness of friends, family and even strangers have been a lifeline, and a way to unite us; We’ve seen Captain (now Colonel) Tom Moore raise millions for the NHS on his 100th birthday and a care home resident moved to tears by the small act of kindness from a carer when he was gifted a pillow with his wife’s picture.

Research shows that altruism is great for us mentally; The Mental Health Foundation found that “63% of UK adults agree that when other people are kind it has a positive impact on their mental health, and the same proportion agree that being kind to others has a positive impact on their mental health.”  On a biological level, helping others and being kind releases serotonin, which gives you a great mood boost!

In our CEO Sammy Rubin’s weekly Monday Motivation talk, he mentioned Ajahn Brahm’s concept of kindfulness and the way that helping others, in turn, helps ourselves and vice versa. We want to share the ways you can be kind to both yourself and others during this week and beyond.

Being kind to yourself

Kindness doesn’t simply mean doing good for others. Kindness starts with ourselves. Dedicating time and energy to your own relaxation, confidence and wellbeing will mean you’re more likely to help others too. The University of Exeter found in a study that even thinking kind thoughts about yourself and loved ones can help lower your heart rate, and switch off your threat response which is bad for your immune system.

Mindfulness is a great way to help put yourself in the present and to help you be kind to yourself. Mindful.org states that it’s hard to practice mindfulness without kindness, as mindfulness is often equated with forgiveness and acceptance. It is World Meditation Day today, and YuLife partner Headspace is running a group meditation session at 8 pm BST. Although you don’t have to meditate to be mindful, it can be helpful in improving your mood.

Small acts of kindness

Grand, sweeping gestures aren’t necessary when being kind to others, as many small good deeds can create an overall happier big picture. The Mental Health Foundation shared a guide on some small things you can do to help others, including sending photos of cute animals and arranging viewing parties and creating an at-home cinema. Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t feel connected!

If you know someone who is struggling with or showing signs of depression or anxiety, take the time to check in regularly and let them know you’re there - something as simple as this can be hugely beneficial.

With an extensive package of preventative health benefits including mental health support and access to a virtual GP 24/7, YuLife is here to support you and your team.

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Sophie Hibbert

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